Wednesday 8 December 2010

Which is more preferable: Innocence or Experience?

In a discussion of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, Harold Bloom (2004) answers:

Since Innocence and Experience are states of the soul through which we pass, neither is a finality, both are necessary, and neither is wholly preferable to the other. Not only are they satires upon each other, but they exist in a cyclic relation as well. Blake does not intend us to see Innocence as belonging to childhood and Experience to adulthood, which would be not only untrue but also uninteresting. 
The relation of the matched pairs of poems, where they exist, does not appear to be schematic, but varies from instance to instance. The matching of "The Divine Image" and "The Human Abstract" seems to be the crucial one, since it shows the widest possibilities of the relationship, and demonstrates vividly what readers are likely to forget, which is that Innocence satirizes Experience just as intensely as it itself is satirized by Experience, and also that any song of either state is also a kind of satire upon itself. (pp. 308-309)

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